Luis Suárez

PSG's Thomas Meunier, left, and Barcelona's Luis Suarez challenge for the ball during the Champions League first leg knockout round match Paris Saint Germain against Barcelona, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
AP Photo/Michel Euler

Suarez: Barca relishes “beautiful challenge” of overturning 4-0

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The common though following Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 first leg domination of Barcelona is there may be only one or two teams capable of overcoming such a lopsided defeat in a home second leg.

No surprise here, but Barca is one of them.

[ MORE: Slumping Spurs “have to be clever” ]

Saying the loss was “painful”, Blaugranas forward Luis Suarez wants to flip the script in a big way and make history.

From the BBC:

“We are the best team in the world. If there is a team that can overturn this situation, it’s Barcelona.”

“To lose in the manner that we did in the last 16 is difficult and painful. It’s going to be very difficult but it’s a beautiful challenge,” added 30-year-old Suarez.

The problem isn’t scoring four goals, it’s keeping a clean sheet and scoring four goals (or scooping a five-goal win).

Paris Saint-Germain overwhelmed Barca in the first leg with incredible pressing and a knack for taking away space. Luis Enrique will not only have to have his players produce a dynamic performance, he’ll have to be tactically brilliant.

European Cups roundup: Barca into Copa final; Bayern reach semis

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 07:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on February 7, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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A roundup of Tuesday’s action in the Copa del Rey semifinals and DFB-Pokal quarterfinals…

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — It’s all a mess behind Chelsea ]

Barcelona 1-1 (3-2) Atletico Madrid

Barcelona are through to their 39th Copa del Rey final, where they’ll play for their record 29th Spanish Cup triumph, following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday (3-2 on aggregate). Luis Suarez fired Barca to a 3-1 aggregate lead just before halftime, at which point Luis Enrique’s side was cruising to a smooth, painless progression. Sergi Roberto was sent off in the 57th minute, though, as was Atleti’s Yannick Carrasco in the 69th minute, making the result all the more straightforward, or so we thought.

Atleti won a penalty in the 80th minute, only to see Kevin Gameiro’s effort glance off the crossbar and head for the stands behind the goal. Gameiro tapped home a brilliant ball from Antoine Griezmann three minutes later, though, to bring the visitors to within a goal of sending the tie to extra time. Luis Suarez was booked once in the 87th minute, then shown a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Koke in the 90th minute — which means he’ll be suspended for the final — forcing Barca to see out the game with nine men. That’s what we call making life unnecessarily difficult.

The Blaugrana will go into the May 27 final as massive favorites, as they’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal second leg, between Alaves and Celta Vigo, which is currently all square at 0-0.

[ MORE: Philipp Lahm will retire this summer, at 33 ]


Bayern Munich 1-0 Wolfsburg

Douglas Costa scored the game’s only goal, as Carlo Ancelotti opted to field a full-strength side with critical Bundesliga games either side of Tuesday’s Cup quarterfinal. Philipp Lahm made his 501st appearance for the club — he was honored for his 500th, achieved over the weekend, prior to the game — and then it was reported by German newspaper Sport Bild that the 33-year-old will retire at the end of the season. Bayern are through to the semifinals, which puts them two games from (likely) sending the German legend out a double (at least) winner (again).

Hamburg 2-0 Kolk

Hamburg currently sit 16th of 18 teams in the Bundesliga (relegation playoff place), but they’re through to the semifinals of the German Cup after a 2-0 home win over Koln, which was capped off by the seventh goal of the season for U.S. national team striker Bobby Wood. (WATCH HERE) The last time Hamburg lifted a major domestic trophy, the date was June 20, 1987 (Cup).

Full DFB-Pokal scoreboard

Greuther Fuerth 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
FCA Walldorf 1-1 (4-5 PKs) Arminia Bielefeld

WATCH: Suarez carries from midfield to give Barca lead over Atleti

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 01:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates scoring their opening goal during the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Vicente Calderon on February 1, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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Quite a goal, Mr. Suarez, quite a goal.

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez took less than seven minutes to make normally stingy Atletico Madrid look pretty open, but there is good news for the hosts at the Vicente Calderon: manager Diego Simeone couldn’t really get in their faces until halftime.

[ MORE: College defender joins Sunderland ]

Suarez gained possession near the halfway line and then dribbled through the Atleti backs before using the outside of his boot to push the ball under a diving Jan Oblak, as Barca took a 1-0 lead in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.

It’s his 22nd goal of the season for Barcelona, and his 106th overall goal for the Blaugranas. He’s good at soccer.

Finally, an answer to “Why hasn’t Messi signed a new contract?”

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 18:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium on December 18, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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Lionel Messi’s current Barcelona contract has just 18 months left to run before expiration, which means, in theory in theory in theory, every soccer club in the world could be competing with one another to sign Messi as an impending free agent 12 months from right now.

[ MORE: PST Extra — Who has the edge between Man Utd, Liverpool? ]

The question, “How in the world have Barcelona allowed his contract to creep that close to expiring?” has been a hot topic for discussion going on a full year now. Finally, a concrete answer has emerged, as Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau connected a pair of dates this week: the La Liga rule that stipulates a club can spend no more than 70 percent of its annual budget on player wages, and an admission that offering Messi (current contract: $23 million) a new contract right now — so shortly after re-signing Neymar and Luis Suarez ($26.5 million) — would put the club over that 70-percent threshold. Oops.

Here’s Grau with the meat-and-potatoes explanation — quotes from the Guardian:

“Barcelona has to analyse this situation with a cold head and common sense. Barca can’t exceed 70 percent of its budget on wages and therefore we have to make the numbers add up.”

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Translation: Barcelona have to, either: 1) create an additional revenue stream that’ll generate tens of millions of dollars in order to offer a contract befitting the greatest player of all time; or, 2) convince Messi that he makes enough money through endorsements and other ventures, thus he can afford to take the “hometown” discount in order to make the numbers work.

Ahem. Good luck with no. 2, Barca.

La Liga & Serie A: Barca cruise in derby; Mertens bags four for Napoli

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 18:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium on December 18, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Chelsea go 9 points clear; Man Utd streaking ]

Barcelona 4-1 Espanyol

The gap between Barcelona and Real Madrid is now just three points after the Blaugrana thrashed Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Sunday (though Madrid now have a game in hand due to their trip to the Club World Cup). Luis Suarez scored twice, his 11th and 12th goals of the 2016-17 La Liga season, with Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba also netting for Barca.

Suarez’s second, and Barca’s second, stands out as the pick of the litter, not for the Uruguayan’s finish, but for the mesmerizing passage of dribbling by Messi during the build-up (WATCH HERE). Messi was made to wait until the 90th minute to notch his 10th goal of the league season, but it was well worth the wait, even if only for the sequence of passes between himself and Suarez.

[ MORE: La Liga — Atleti end poor run of results; Sevilla go 2nd (for now) ]

Elsewhere in La Liga

Deportivo La Coruña 2-0 Osasuna
Leganes 1-1 Eibar

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Real Madrid 15 11 4 0 40 14 26 6-2-0 5-2-0 37
 Barcelona 16 10 4 2 41 16 25 4-3-1 6-1-1 34
 Sevilla 16 10 3 3 32 21 11 7-0-1 3-3-2 33
 Villarreal 16 8 5 3 25 11 14 6-1-1 2-4-2 29
 Real Sociedad 16 9 2 5 28 21 7 5-2-1 4-0-4 29
 Atlético Madrid 16 8 4 4 29 14 15 5-2-1 3-2-3 28
 Eibar 16 6 5 5 22 20 2 5-2-1 1-3-4 23
 Athletic 15 7 2 6 20 18 2 5-1-1 2-1-5 23
 Espanyol 16 5 7 4 20 22 -2 2-4-2 3-3-2 22

Napoli 5-3 Torino

Dries Mertens scored not one, not two, not three, but four goals as third-place Napoli blitzed ninth-place Torino early and held on for dear life late. Mertens had his hat trick after 22 minutes, and former Tottenham Hotspur defender Vlad Chiriches made it 4-1 (following Andrea Belotti’s league-leading 12th goal of the season) after 70 minutes.

Then came the comeback attempt, as Torino pulled one back six minutes later, only to be rebuffed by Mertens’ fourth of the game in the 80th minute, followed by another for former Tottenham man, Iago Falque, pulling the visitors back to within two goals. The victory pulls Napoli to within a point of Roma in the race for second, but still only fourth in the league table after Lazio made easy work of Fiorentina to remain third.

[ MORE: Serie A — Juventus beat 2nd-place Roma, go 7 points clear ]

Lazio 3-1 Fiorentina

Keita put the home side ahead after 23 minutes, and Lucas Biglia made it 2-0 during first-half stoppage time. Former West Ham United forward Mauro Zarate pulled Fiorentina back to 2-1 in the 64th minute, but that’s as close as the Viola would get, as Stefan Radu put a tidy bow on the victory in the 90th minute.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 — Pressure increasing on Emery as PSG lose 4th league game ]

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 0-1 Inter Milan
Udinese 2-0 Crotone
Pescara 3-0 Bologna
Chievo 2-1 Sampdoria
Genoa 3-4 Palermo

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 17 14 0 3 36 14 22 9-0-0 5-0-3 42
 Roma 17 11 2 4 36 17 19 8-0-0 3-2-4 35
 Napoli 17 10 4 3 37 18 19 6-2-1 4-2-2 34
 Lazio 17 10 4 3 32 18 14 6-1-2 4-3-1 34
 AC Milan 17 10 3 4 27 20 7 6-2-1 4-1-3 33
 Atalanta 17 9 2 6 25 20 5 5-0-3 4-2-3 29
 Inter Milan 17 8 3 6 25 21 4 5-2-1 3-1-5 27
 Fiorentina 17 7 5 5 25 21 4 4-4-0 3-1-5 26
 Torino 17 7 4 6 35 27 8 5-2-1 2-2-5 25